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Jackie Chan: Chinese need control

Categories: East Asia, China, Hong Kong (China), Taiwan (ROC), Arts & Culture, Ethnicity & Race, Film, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Human Rights

“I'm mot sure if it's good to have freedom or not, I'm really confused now. If there is too much freedom, like the way Hong Kong is today, it is very chaotic; Taiwan is also chaotic. I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled.” – Jackie Chan, Hong Kong and Hollywood's action movie star, spoke at a panel on “Tapping into Asia's Creative Industry potential” in Hainan, a southern province in China n 18 April 2009. (more from wtop)

China Law Blog considers Jackie Chan a racist for making such comment:

The title sums up my initial reaction to the news of Jackie Chan dissing the Chinese people by essentially saying they are too messed up to ever be able to handle democracy. I was going to write a blog post criticizing Chan for his comments and noting how the same thing has been said about other countries that are now democracies (the United States, Japan,
West Germany, Italy, Spain and South Korea immediately come to mind). Then I decided I am not the right person to write such a post, so I didn't.

When compared with western media's reports, it seems that local people are less surprised by the news, as Joanna replied in the comment section of China Law Blog:

What Chan said is something I was told thousands of times since I was born, but the unusual point this time is that he is a celebrity and he is from Hongkong –the freest area in China, but also the most colonial area in Chinese history (Maybe that's why it sounds somewhat racist to western ears).

He said: “I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we are not being controlled, we'll just do what we want.”

Yes, people should be controlled (by what?to what extent?), or they'll just do what they want — but the government should be controlled also, or it'll just do what it wants too. How sad is that only the former half can be told, and can be said.

Btw, this part of Chan's speech wasn't reported by mainland China's media. He was again reported as a patriot, telling the young people to love China and to be proud of chinese culture, not the foreign countries’. The power just doesn't like anyone talking about anything related to politics.

In Hong Kong, many people are disapointed, Uncle Ray said that Jackie Chan is heartless to talk like that:


Today I read an article about Sichuan earthquake which stated that up till now the Chinese government had not been able to provide an official statement about the death toll number of school kids. When the parent tried to do their investigation, they were either locked up or intimidated. Intellectual, Liu Xiabo had been arrested without trial after he made an open statement on his expectation of political reform. Dissent Hu Jia was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment under the charge of inciting sedition because of two articles he wrote. Numerous human right activists and protesters were put into prison. I want to ask Jackie Chan, are they so wrong that they need to be “controlled” by the government?

Those were the days wonders what's so chaotic about Hong Kong?


He said Hong Kong is chaotic, what exactly he is referring? That Hong Kong people would voice out for democracy, freedom and rights? That Hong Kong people would demonstrate for social minorities’ rights? That LSD (political party) would curse at dog-like government bureaucrats who obey whatever the Beijing government says?


It is totally illogical to draw the relation between “freedom” and “chaos”. Nowadays in Hong Kong, probably not all of us believe in democracy, but none of us, including the pro-China left, dare to deny the value of freedom. Since colonial era, Hong Kong people have not have democracy, but we have rule of law and freedom. Although we don't have the same position about the time line of democratic development, none of us ever oppose having more freedom and rule of law.

Diumanpark, a blogger from Hong Kong, has a different interpretation of Jackie Chan's talk. If Chinese need control, who should be controlling? and who should be under control? He mocks at Jackie Chan's logic:


That's why I feel that Jackie Chan's has a deeper meaning in what he said. There are at least two implications in the phrase “Chinese need control”. Firstly, we use a system to control Chinese people, which means we need a universal suffrage to elect our government and implement the rule of law. We need freedom of speech, so that public opinion and media can monitor “Chinese people”; Secondly, maybe Jackie Chan is like many Hong Kong people, he misses colonialism and wishes that China be turned into a colony under the control of more advance countries like the U.S, U.K or Japan.